Cardiac Care and Recovery

Whether you’re recovering from a cardiac event like a heart attack, dealing with open-heart surgery complications, looking for help managing end-stage heart failure symptoms, or in need of long-term rehabilitation following a cardiovascular stroke, Kindred is here to support you with comprehensive, patient-centered care plans designed for higher-quality outcomes.

What Is Cardiovascular Disease?

Cardiovascular diseases — disorders of the heart and blood vessels — are the leading cause of death among both men and women in the United States. About half of all Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Cardiovascular diseases like hypertensive heart disease, end-stage congestive heart failure, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (thickening of the heart wall) can vary in severity from patient to patient and may manifest differently for men and women. Although there is no known cure for these conditions, we can treat most forms of heart disease and make life better for those who suffer from them.

Kindred’s Approach to Cardiac Care

Many people with cardiac conditions like congestive heart failure stages III and IV, or those experiencing complications from cardiac surgery, may need extended and specialized care with daily physician monitoring. Kindred is an acute care hospital that supports longer stays than traditional hospitals — usually measured in weeks instead of days — and has clinical expertise in cardiac care. The Kindred care model is designed to offer adequate time and resources for in-depth evaluation, comprehensive treatment and close monitoring of all patients, facilitating the transition from hospital to home.

At Kindred, our interdisciplinary team approach to providing clinical care is key to the success of our patients. Led by skilled cardiac physicians who stay up to date on advanced techniques and protocols, our diverse team of specialists creates comprehensive care plans for those needing acute care services, including aggressive, medically complex care, intensive care and rehabilitation. This approach is unique and especially helpful for people who are suffering from multiple acute complexities, such as complications from cardiac surgery, or from conditions like end-stage heart failure that cannot be treated effectively at a lower level of care.

Because each patient has unique needs, our interdisciplinary team creates individualized care plans that may include treatment in a special care unit; cardiac monitoring; medication management; physical, occupational and speech therapies; nutritional support; and patient/family education on home care and the use of medical devices. Financial planning for extended care is also available to patients and their caregivers.

“When it comes to cardiac care, the complexities can be many and the stakes are incredibly high,” says Dr. Dean French, Chief Medical Officer. “Not only is it necessary for our physician specialists in various disciplines like pulmonary, rehabilitation, and cardiac to work together, it’s critical for our care team to treat the patient holistically — working with them to make the right choices for their physical, mental and emotional health. For example, a patient with end-stage congestive heart failure might be a candidate for a heart transplant, but despite good heart transplant success rates, they may decide that it’s not the right choice for them, opting instead to treat the end-stage heart failure symptoms with medications or implanted devices. Many considerations must be made to really support the health and recovery of each patient, and it’s the responsibility of the Kindred team to create a care plan that is right for each person we treat.”

Cardiac Treatment Services

At Kindred, we offer specialized cardiac services through an interdisciplinary team of clinical experts and specialty physicians. The collaborative team creates a goal-directed plan to address new conditions, as well as complications from chronic illnesses.

These services include treatment options for:

  • Post-cardiac surgery wounds or infection — Despite the many advances in postoperative care, infections and persistent surgical wounds remain some of the most common open-heart surgery complications.
  • Congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy — Heart failure and conditions that cause it, like cardiomyopathy, can have long-lasting symptoms that require extended medical care. Symptoms of early congestive heart failure stages are generally mild, but end-stage heart failure symptoms can be severe and require comprehensive care.
  • Post-myocardial infarction with complications — Recovery time for a myocardial infarction depends on the level of severity, but if there are complications, like arrhythmias, cardiogenic shock or hypoxemia, it can take weeks or months and require extensive cardiac rehabilitation. Other complications include deep vein thrombosis, ventricular aneurysms, pulmonary edema, angina and pericarditis.
  • Peripheral vascular disease — Causing pain, aches and cramps in the legs and restricted blood flow to the extremities or other body parts, peripheral vascular disease (PVD) can lead to serious complications. Treatment plans that include medication, lifestyle changes and sometimes surgical procedures can manage pain and slow or stop disease progression.

Kindred may also use telemetry technology to monitor the heart’s electrical activity. This may be necessary after a myocardial infarction or during anti-arrhythmic therapy. Telemetry recordings show the Kindred cardiac team if there are problems with how the heart beats.

Other conditions that necessitate telemetry include:

  • A recent history of unstable cardiac rhythm
  • Active ischemic heart disease
  • Respiratory rate failure or impending respiratory failure requiring close monitoring of cardiac rhythm
  • Drug toxicity associated with conduction abnormalities
  • IV calcium channel blocker and beta blocker

In addition, Kindred offers a ventricular assist device (VAD) program to help people with end-stage heart failure who have not responded to conventional therapy and those waiting for a heart transplant. VADs are implanted surgically and support or replace the function of the failing heart by pumping blood to other parts of the body.

Patients and family members in the VAD program receive specific training in:

  • Daily management of the device
  • Troubleshooting potential emergency situations
  • Sterile dressing change
  • Medication management
  • Nutrition and diet guidelines
  • Fluid intake monitoring
  • Guidelines for sleeping, bathing, exercising and traveling

If you or a loved one are suffering from complications from cardiac surgery or a cardiac condition like hypertensive heart disease or end-stage heart failure, you many need comprehensive, aggressive care over an extended period of time. At Kindred, we specialize in creating care plans for medically complex conditions that require an interdisciplinary approach. Our goal is to help you reach the highest level of recovery before making the transition from hospital to home.

Success Spotlight: Carrie's Story

Carrie is a Registered Nurse who tended to patients requiring ventilator care at Kindred, where she started as an LVN in 2002. She received her RN in 2013 at the age of 58, working full time while she attended school. But Carrie had no idea she would find herself needing the kind of care she was used to giving. Carrie discovered that she needed to have a cardiac bypass surgery after a visit to her doctor revealed unexpected problems with her heart. Carrie felt anxious but confident that her open-heart surgery recovery would go well. Unfortunately, complications from cardiac surgery led to a sudden onset of respiratory failure, kidney failure and a major infection. Carrie had to be given a tracheostomy, along with ventilator support for her breathing and a feeding tube. But this was only the beginning of what was to be a five-month journey to recovery.

Carrie suffered a cardiac arrest and coded not long after her first surgery, needing emergency surgical intervention. In a very delicate critical condition, Carrie was transferred to another hospital for continuation of care, where she coded for a second time. It was during this time that her daughter, Theresa, the Director of Quality Management at Kindred Hospital Sycamore, assumed Power of Attorney over her mother’s care.

“We arranged for my mother to transfer to Kindred Hospital as soon as she was stable, because of the level of cardiac care and experience with patients suffering from complications of cardiac surgery,” Theresa shared. “When my mother arrived, she was in very bad shape — she’d been in a hospital bed for six weeks and needed to be in a place where she could truly begin her recovery.”

Carrie began treatment for several conditions. She needed wound care to heal the initial surgical wounds, and the pulmonary team helped her regain her lung strength until she could be successfully weaned from the ventilator. She also worked with physical, occupational and speech therapists to develop her overall strength. She worked hard, made progress and was able to start taking small steps with the aid of a walker. 

“Looking back, it was the scariest thing I’ve ever been through,” Carrie recalls. “The entire staff pushed me and never gave up — every day, seven days a week — until I was able to move on to a rehabilitation facility. I’m grateful to Kindred for being there for me — first as a job and security, and then when I needed open heart surgery recovery. I couldn’t have hoped for a better place to be.”

Carrie just recently came back to visit the hospital, her colleagues, and the staff who cared for her. She paid a special visit to the garden where she had previously planted flowers. “Not only did she plant the flowers and tend to them,” Theresa added, “but she also routinely put up decorations to celebrate special occasions and patient milestones."

“I keep getting better little by little,” Carrie said. “I’m still doing physical therapy and seeing an infectious disease doctor, but I’ve definitely got enough energy to chase my grandkids again! I had spent so much time caring for patients who had suffered complications from cardiac surgery with the interdisciplinary Kindred care team, that I had full confidence they would give me the best chance at recovery. I was right.”